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Information About the Communication Continuum
Speech, Language, Literacy
Park Slope Communication & Learning Center Newsletter
Issue 15 - March, 2012
You can sometimes make words using the letters in a larger word. For example, from the word "tube" you can make "be," "bet," "but," and "tub." Now onto a harder one: how many words can you make from the word "spring?" (Hint: we found 42.)

Riddles for Kids: Bugs
Q: What did one firefly say to the other before he left?
A: Bye! I'm glowing now!

Q: Why was the father centipede so upset?
A: All of the kids needed new shoes!

Q: Why did the boy throw butter out of his window?
A: He wanted to see a butterfly!

Q: Why don't grasshoppers watch football games?
A: They prefer cricket!

Q: What is worse than a giraffe with a sore neck?
A: A centipede with athlete's feet!

Q: What is the last thing that goes through a bug's mind when it hits your windshield?
A: Its rear end!

Q: What do you call a 100 year old ant?
A: An ant-ique!

Q: Why are spiders good baseball players?
A: Because they know how to catch flies!

Q: Why don't flies go through screen windows?
A: They don't want to strain themselves!

Q: How does a mama beetle carry her little baby beetle?
A: In a baby buggy!

Answers to WordsInWords
Gin, grin, grins, grip, grips, in, ins, nip, nips, pig, pigs, pin, ping, pings, pins, rig, rigs, ring, rings, rip, rips, sign, sin, sing, sip, sir, snip, spin, sprig.

In This Issue

  • Stories from the Kids: June and Xiomara
  • Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened last month?
  • From Speaking to Writing: How to Help Your Child Write Short Sequences
  • For Fun: Trivia Quiz
  • For Fun: Some Interesting Events in March!

In Upcoming Issues

  • Using Literacy Activities to Increase Your Child's Knowledge of Current Events and History
  • Home Treatment for Language Delayed Kids

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Our ongoing goal is to keep you informed about all matters related to the Communication Continuum: Speech, Language, and Literacy; to keep you updated on our seminars and other matters of interest; to answer questions you may have, and also provide some fun activities for your child, created by us, by colleagues, as well as syndicated content.


Please submit any questions you have regarding Speech, Language, and Literacy, and we'll be happy to reply in an upcoming issue of CC-News. If you do submit a question (to news@parkslopecc.com), be sure to let us know if you'd like your name (first and/or last) to appear, or if you'd prefer it left out.


In the past, we've held seminars and discussions on: Stuttering, Auditory Processing Disorders, How to Help Your Child Develop Reading Skills, Early Speech and Language Development (0 - 5), Speech/Language/Feeding Developmental Milestones, Using the Phonic Engine® Reading Method to Facilitate Reading, Writing, and Spelling. Please let us know if you'd personally like any of these repeated, or have other topics that you'd like to hear about.

Stories from the Kids

The students in our reading groups produce writings using KidsVoyager Online with KidsVoyager Animated Storywriter. The writings may be imaginative stories, summaries of things they've read online, writings to teach higher level skills, such as persuasion, and so on. The stories are entered into the Online Storywriter's text box using typed spelling, combined with Phonic Engine Encoding (i.e. selecting initial & final phonemes for a word, then clicking a matching word displayed in a multisensory word grid). Writing is a terrific way to learn, teaches numerous skills, and kids love it. We hope you enjoy them.

If Toys Could Talk, by June

If toys could talk I would say, "Would you like to go to the movie theater and watch "Toy Story 1?" "Yes," said Barbie, I would love to."

We went to the movies and got popcorn and soda. I got tickets for Barbie and me.

Then Buzz flew into the movie theater with Woody in his arms. "Would you like to get tickets and soda and popcorn?" I asked. "Yes", said Buzz and Woody. We asked the movie theater man which movie theater should we go in today.

"Go to little big movie theater #2." We ran to the movie and theater and gave the ticket man our tickets. The ticket man said that we should go to seats AA, AB, AC and AD.

Buzz carried us all to that row where our seats were. Then we watched the movie. Barbie, at the end of the movie, asked if there was a boy Barbie who would marry her.

Then a real Ken came and said, "Would you like to marry me, Barbie.?" "Yes," said Barbie and they were married at the movie theater. Then they got to buy a house.

The Life Cycle of Kangaroos, by Xiomara

Kangaroos can be small and big.

When they are born they are small and when they are grown-ups they are big.

Sometimes they are gray and brown. They come from Australia and New Guinea.

When they are born, they are teeny and the size of a jelly bean, and they can't see or hear and they have no hair.

They eat grass, shrubs and plants. Kangaroos are good and interesting animals.

Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Method & KidsVoyager Online: February, 2012

During the month of February, we continued reading our chapter books (except with our youngest students). At the end of each chapter, each student was asked to write a chapter summary describing the setting, characters, events, and even new vocabulary words.

We read about Dr. Dolittle having an adventure in Africa, while saving all of the monkeys from a monkey illness. We read about Alice and her adventures in Wonderland, and all of the unusual characters she meets. She meets a Mock Turtle, a Gryphon and, of course, a very unusual Queen.

It is so wonderful to see the look of pride on our students' faces when they read chapter after chapter; and even though they laugh at the humorous sections, they have become serious students.

Reading Tarzan of the Apes, for example, has led to interesting discussions about human communication, apes, and other animal communication, as well as the concept of what being "human" means.

The younger students have continued to read short stories. One very nice story was called "The Sweet Smelling Skunk," which is about an unlikely friendship and alliance between an elderly woman and a skunk. He protects her vegetable garden by spraying its perimeter, and she rewards him with all of the fresh vegetables he wants; in addition, he finally has a friend. Another story we read was called, "The No Monster, The Please Police and the Big Tickle," about a father making up stories for his children that humorously point out their foibles and, sometimes, bad manners.

The story is also aimed at parents, in that the father was able to correct his children's behavior by allowing them to see what their behavior looked like, rather than scolding them or punishing them in any way. One other series of enjoyable short stories online are by an author named Jerry Jindrich. He wrote a series of stories about an imaginary animal called a Pigmoose or, more accurately, the Striped and Spotted Purple Pigmoose.

With Valentine's Day occurring in February, some of the students wrote about feelings, and things that made them feel a particular way. For example, they wrote things like "I am happy when I have a play date with my best friend." This was made into an 8 page book and some of the students drew pictures to go with their "feelings" pages.

We spend a lot of time working on phonics with the many students for whom this is a major issue. We use Phonic Engine® Spelling to help our students not only learn the rules but, wherever possible, figure them out for themselves. We work on short vowels, for example, which are extremely important because they are so common, often sound similar to each other, and because there are so many spelling rules that revolve around them. Check out this article for more specifics:


This website breaks all these spelling rules down, and it is clear that many of them are based around the short vowel. We also use Phonic Engine Spelling to make lists of long vowel combinations. Long vowels almost always require two letters. Think about /long e/, for example. We use /ee/, /ea/, and /e_e/ (silent e); or, /long a/: we have /ai/, /ay/, /a_e/ and /eigh/, which is a rather interesting letter combination.

One assignment we often give students is to have them look and listen for target sounds (within the KidsVoyager Online word grid). For example, if working on /long a/, we might have them look for words beginning with /long a/ and ending with /t/. They would find ate and eight, as well as ancient and agent.

Phonic Engine Spelling encourages students to engage in word study. Word study is the study of the correspondence between letter patterns and sounds. For example, the typical letters used to make the /ch/ sound following a short vowel are "tch." Word study reduces the need to learn words one at a time. Once you know the pattern, you can usually spell the word. Of course, there are exceptions. In this case, some of them are "much," "such" and "rich." With Phonic Engine Spelling, students both learn the rules, and see where they don't apply.

Our students utilize these rules both when reading (decoding) and writing (encoding). Using KidsVoyager Online StoryWriter, children use this knowledge to write their own stories, and even continue a story from week to week.

It appears that when students engage in word study, they retain the appearance of a word and can use it in their stories without misspelling it or having to look it up, making writing a longer story more fun. Because it is closely tied to reading instruction, it also develops students' abilities in phonics, word recognition, and vocabulary (Baker, 2000).

All in all, it was a very busy and very productive month and also quite fun!

Baker, L. (2000). Building the word-level foundation for engaged reading. Engaging young readers: Promoting achievement and motivation. New York: Guilford Press.

From Speaking to Writing: How to Help Your Child Write Short Sequences

Parents often tell us that they can't get their children to write at home. Their children will sit with paper and pencil, or in front of the computer monitor, and just stare. In fact, this seems to be the written version of parents asking their kids "What did you do in school today?" and, invariably, the kids say "Nothing."

So here is a technique that works virtually every time. Start with pencil and paper; lined paper. First, write a title on the top of the paper, such as "My Day at School" (or camp), or a title for whatever your topic is. Make sure your topic is a review of what the child just did that day. The more removed a topic is in time, the harder it is for your child to both talk and write about it. As your child improves in this area, you will find that s/he will be able to talk and/or write about events that happened a day ago or a week ago; but not to start with.

This technique is very low tech and very effective. On the paper where you have put the title, write the numbers 1 to 5. (If your child is younger than 5, write the numbers 1 to 3.) Then, hold up one hand and say "We are going to write about five things you did today; five things, one for each finger. Here is our title, 'My Day,' so tell me the first thing you did today." (Point to your thumb as you say this and, for every sentence that follows, point to the next finger.) Either your child will tell you and you will write it down and say something very reinforcing like, "Great job!" or you may hear, "I don't know" or something like that.

It is important that your child not struggle to think of what to say. We don't want any negative feelings aroused by this activity, so give your child choices. Giving your child choices also improves his/her ability in the area of self expression; it improves vocabulary and conceptual development. If need be, say something like, "Did you sleep late or wake up early?" or "Did you wake up on your own or did mom wake you up?" Say anything to keep the verbal/written ball rolling. So if s/he hesitates for 5 seconds or more, give your child choices.

It is helpful if you have spent the day together so you can ask "or" questions and you know that one answer is correct and one is quite incorrect, but of course that is not always possible. You might also find that drawing a picture is helpful. So many of the children we work with are artistic.

Once you have your child readily telling you about his/her day, it is time to add sequencing words. Words such as "first," "then," "afterwards" and "finally." Then, when you write down your child's five sentences, begin each with one with a temporal (i.e. time related) word. If your child is expressing concepts that are not time related, you may need to show your child how to use other kinds of words. There may be words like "because" if your child is talking about causality, for example.

Practice these with your child until s/he begins to use these terms without your help (often, several weeks to several months).

Now, it’s time for writing a paragraph. Use the words your child has put in list order, and put them in the form of a paragraph.

Once it appears that your child has the idea, skip writing the sentence list altogether. Start with writing a paragraph from the beginning. Soon you'll find your child can write narrative paragraphs that are not only about his/her own life, but other things as well. You can start practicing fictional versions of "My Day" or begin writing about real events and ideas, such as "President's Day" or "The Moons of Jupiter,” for example.

In future newsletters, we will talk about writing stories and essays about all kinds of topics, and discussing how these skills give your child a great advantage in the school setting.

Trivia Quiz: A Cup of Joe

March is National Caffeine Awareness Month. Test how much you know about this chemical substance with this trivia quiz.

1. True or False: A strong cup of tea contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.
2. How long does it take the human body to clear itself of caffeine?
3. What percentage of Americans consume caffeine every day?
4. What percentage of sodas contain caffeine?
5. True or False: Caffeine is on the International Olympic Committee's list of prohibited substances.
6. Which has more caffeine: dark or medium roasted coffee?
7. Coffee processors used to discard the caffeine they obtained through the decaffeinating process. They no longer discard this excess caffeine. Instead, what do they do with it?
8. The average cup of coffee contains about 125 milligrams of caffeine. How much is in the average chocolate bar?
9. How many cups of coffee would you have to drink in rapid succession before reaching a lethal dose of caffeine?
10. How long does it take for caffeine to have an effect on your nervous system once it is ingested?

1. True.
2. 5 hours.
3. 90 percent.
4. 70 percent.
5. True.
6. Medium (more caffeine is burned off the longer it is roasted).
7. They sell it to pharmaceutical companies.
8. 30 milligrams.
9. 80 to 100 cups.
10. About 15 minutes.

March 2012 Holidays and Events

Credit Education Month
Employee Spirit Month
Expanding Girls' Horizons in Science and Engineering Month
International Ideas Month
International Listening Awareness Month
International Mirth Month
Irish-American Heritage Month
Music in our Schools Month
National Caffeine Awareness Month
National Clean Up Your IRS Act Month
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
National Craft Month
National Ethics Awareness Month
National Eye Donor Month
National Frozen Food Month
National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month
National Nutrition Month
National On-Hold Month
National Peanut Month
National Social Work Month
National Umbrella Month
National Women's History Month
Optimism Month
Play the Recorder Month
Poison Prevention Awareness Month
Red Cross Month
Save Your Vision Month
Sing with Your Child Month
Spiritual Wellness Month
Workplace Eye Wellness Month
Youth Art Month

1-7 National Cheerleading Week
1-7 National Ghostwriters Week
4-10 Celebrate Your Name Week
4-10 National Consumer Protection Week
4-10 National Procrastination Week
4-10 National Words Matter Week
4-10 Professional Pet Sitters Week
4-10 Read an E-Book Week
4-10 Return the Borrowed Books Week
4-10 Save Your Vision Week
4-10 Teen Tech Week
5-9 National School Breakfast Week
5-9 Newspaper in Education Week
5-11 National Sleep Awareness Week
11-17 National Agriculture Week
12-18 Brain Awareness Week
12-18 National Wildlife Week
18-24 National Poison Prevention Week
18-24 National Animal Poison Prevention Week
19-25 Act Happy Week
19-25 Wellderly Week
19-25 World Folk Tales and Fables Week
25-31 National Protocol Officers Week
25-31 Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Week
25-31 Root Canal Awareness Week

1 National Horse Protection Day
1 National Pig Day
1 Plan a Solo Vacation Day
1 World Compliment Day
2 Dress in Blue Day
2 Read Across America Day
2 World Day of Prayer
3 National Anthem Day
4 Courageous Follower Day
4 Namesake Day
4 National Grammar Day
5 Fun Facts About Names Day
6 Organize Your Home Office Day
6 Peace Corps Day
6 Unique Names Day
7 Discover What Your Name Means Day
7 National Be Heard Day
8 Girls Write Now Day
8 International Working Women's Day
8 Nametag Day
8 National Proofreading Day
8 Day For Women's Rights and International Peace
8 World Kidney Day
9 Middle Name Pride Day
10 Genealogy day
10 International Fanny Pack Day
10 Mario Day
11 Check Your Batteries Day
13 Good Samaritan Involvement Day
13 National Agriculture Day
13 National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day
14 Registered Dietitian Day
15 Absolutely Incredible Kid Day
15 Companies That Care Day
15 True Confessions Day
16 Lips Appreciation Day
17 National Quilting Day
17 St. Patrick's Day
18 Awkward Moments Day
18 Forgive Mom and Dad Day
18 National Biodiesel Day
20 Kiss Your Fiancé Day
20 Proposal Day
20 First Day of Spring
20 Won't You Be My Neighbor Day
21 Memory Day
21 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
22 As Young As You Feel Day
22 International Goof-Off Day
22 World Day for Water
23 National Day of Unplugging
23 National Puppy Day
23 World Meteorological Day
24 World Tuberculosis Day
25 Pecan Day
25 Tolkien Reading Day
26 Legal Assistants Day
26 Make Up Your Own Holiday Day
27 Education and Sharing Day
29 National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day
30 Doctors' Day
31 National Love Our Children Day

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